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Probe starts as woman dies after AstraZeneca shot


THAILAND: Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has vowed a probe into the death of a 46-year-old woman, the first since the nationwide vaccine rollout kicked off on Monday (June 7) with AstraZeneca used as the main vaccine.

“People can rest assured that the vaccines are safe,” said Dr Chawetsan Namwat of the Department of Disease Control yesterday (June 9). Photo: Bangkok Post.

Offering his condolences to the family of Panyapat Itthithanawong, of Bang Khen district, Mr Anutin said a probe was in order.

Key details must be examined, such as whether she had suffered underlying ailments prior to the vaccination or if she developed severe side effects or was allergic to the vaccine.

He said public health and medical experts agreed vaccination may bring on some undesirable conditions and side effects. But the conditions are estimated to occur in very few people. The aftermath of vaccinations is being closely monitored under the national jab rollout, he said.

Panyapat, who died at her home at a housing estate in Bang Khen district on Tuesday night, one day after the nationwide vaccination was launched on Monday.

She was injected with a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday morning.

According to police, the woman had a high fever, a headache and felt fatigue hours after she returned home from the vaccination. She took two pain killer tablets.

The symptoms appeared to subside except for the headache which worsened.

She then took the medication prescribed by her doctor for easing her migraine, police said.

Some 15 minutes later, she began gasping for air and suffered a seizure before losing consciousness, police said, citing remarks by the woman’s niece who cared for her at home.

The niece contacted a neighbour for help and called paramedics who failed to revive her.

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Pol Col Atthapol Meeseang, chief of Bang Khen police, said relatives informed investigators the woman was on medication to alleviate the migraine. Some doctors have warned people against taking painkillers if they develop side effects after a vaccine.

An autopsy was being performed with results expected in 45 days, according to Pol Col Atthapol.

It was reported that a preliminary examination has shown the woman had irregular blood circulation and congestive cardiac failure.

So far, 28 deaths have been recorded since the first vaccination earlier in the year. Twelve of them have been ruled by a panel of medical experts as having no link to the vaccination, according to the Disease Control Department (DCD).

Dr Chawetsan Namwat, director for emergency health hazards and diseases, said the deaths were defined as coincidental events.

“The deaths were from severe undesirable symptoms and were not a result of receiving the vaccine… People can rest assured that the vaccines are safe,” Dr Chawetsan said yesterday.

Determining the exact cause of death in each case was a time-consuming process, he added, and took into account the patients’ medical treatment records, autopsy reports and results of laboratory tests.

These cases were observed and recorded while some 6.7 million doses of both the Sinovac and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered between Feb 28, when the first COVID-19 jab was made, and June 8.

In determining whether these deaths were connected to the COVID-19 vaccination, a formal autopsy and examinations of specimens taken from the bodies are needed, Dr Chawetsan said.





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